As the first Irishman canonized by a pope, Malachy O'More is one of the most important churchmen to originate from that country. Born in 1094, his spirituality was recognized by Celsus (Ceallach), the Archbishop of Armagh, who ordained him priest at the age of 25. When Malachy inherited the post of abbot of Bangor from his uncle (family succession was a tradition at the time), he refused to accept any income, preferring to live in poverty with the brothers.
Malachy was only 29 when he was named the Bishop of Connor. He used his position to reach out to the poor, many of whom were not Christians. He made rounds on foot, and his zeal for the Gospel greatly increased church attendance. He also healed the sick and performed other miracles.
As he lay dying, Celsus named Malachy instead of one of his relatives as Archbishop of Armagh, ending the practice of hereditary succession. But Celsus' relatives seized the rich office by force. Fearing violence, Malachy refused to interfere in the matter. He was finally installed as archbishop five years later when 12 members of the opposition were killed by lightning as they prepared to fight Malachy's supportors over control of the see.
The dispute ended in 1137 when Malachy resigned his post to the abbot of Kerry. He returned to his old see, only to have Pope Innocent II appoint him his legate to Ireland. On the first of his two journeys to Rome, he befriended Bernard of Clairvaux, leader of the Cistercian Order, which Malachy's followers later established in Ireland. Malachy died in Bernard's arms in 1148, having prophesied the day of his death.
O St. Malachy!
Keep us in holiness and justice,
having pity on us who ponder
the memory of the abundance
of your sweetness
in the midst of so many
and such miseries.
May your festival benefit our salvation
by your merits and prayers.
May the praise of your holiness
be continued by the angels.
- St. Bernard of Clairvaux
From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives
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